Thematic

Social epistemology is defined as "an analysis of the social dimension of knowledge" (Bouvier & Conein, 2007). Other theorists, such as Margaret Egan (Egan & Shera 1952), consider it as the study of the means by which a society comes to an understanding relationship with its environment; this epistemic perspective is present in different SHS domains, for example ethnosciences for knowledge and popular classifications in the 1950s (Bromberger, 1986) or the very relative distance between profane knowledge and scientific knowledge in a more contemporary period (Barthélémy 2005). 

Indeed, (Dick, 2002) explains that social epistemology has developed both outside and within the discipline of Information Science, and  is fundamental to a theory of Information Science and libraries. Thus, in order to strengthen the theoretical basis of the discipline, it may be interesting/useful to identify a number of streams or thematic areas of interest for social epistemology. Shera's perspective is represented by a whole family of approaches, including Domain Analysis, postmodern philosophy, paradigm theory, hermeneutics, critical theory, and feminist epistemology. The Domain Analysis approach (Hjørland and Albretchen 1995) is one of the enlightening examples of social epistemology in the organization of knowledge; it implies that the description of the subject of a document must take into account the social use of the document. Indeed, according to this approach, the relevance of the subject description must be directed by the in-depth knowledge of the domain, the research methods, as well as the needs of the target users.

This approach is also based on the social production of categories and fields of knowledge. It brings together a network of researchers around the world such as Hjørland, Albrechtsen, Smiraglia, Tennis, Ritzer, Thellefsen, Guimarães, Martinez-Avila, among others, who question the disciplinary organization of knowledge as it has been thought in theories of knowledge. This approach constitutes a fundamental contribution to the field of Information and Library Sciences. It is more interested in the environment than in the user, and in its effect on individuals, as members of distinct cultures, domains and documentary systems. Shera's theoretical approach, with the benefit of hindsight - and with further methodology - may prove to be the most fruitful theoretical framework for classification theory, knowledge organization and knowledge management. Like Conein's (2007) reflection on ICT and social epistemology, for whom it is a question of specifying what the word "social" covers: is it collaboration, a pooling of information or rather an interactive dimension? Thus the question arises for him of the modes of acquisition of knowledge and the way in which the various artifacts (written documents, information system, etc.) contribute differently to the exchange of knowledge and its conservation and dissemination.

Although social epistemology must have its own theoretical references, it must be truly interdisciplinary in its heavy reliance on many fields: sociology, anthropology, linguistics, psychology, mathematics, and information theory, to name a few of the more visible ones. In their efforts to construct the theoretical foundations of Information and Library Science studies, scholars have drawn on various understandings of social epistemology, social justice and epistemic justice (Furner, 2018), and indigenous knowledge organization (Nakashima 1993; Grenier, 1998) among others. The description of classification theory attributed to Shera (1951) explicitly argues for a pragmatic understanding and against the idea of a "fundamental order of nature" and the belief that there is a single, universal, logically divided classification of knowledge.

Many phenomena are known to us often through the intermediary of others and thus access to knowledge passes through a multiplicity of direct and indirect channels mediated or not. Alvin Goldman (2021) underlines that historically, individuals have often been encouraged to search for knowledge by starting from their own mind and proceeding in a highly individualistic spirit. In contrast, he points out that the contemporary period reveals a movement towards social epistemology, encouraging individuals to seek knowledge from the knowledge of others. This point questions the notions of authority, legitimacy in the production, circulation and validation of knowledge with regard to documentary utopias (Rayward 1994). It also invites us to question the relationships between imaginaries and technologies (circularity, intersection, overlap, etc.) and their influences on the social and more particularly on the evolution of human behaviors and activities.

It is therefore important here to integrate questions about epistemic postures in the processes of knowledge organization of social epistemology and community constructions via web 2.0 environment content integration. Indeed, this approach must be revised through the theory of representation of textual data applied to this new organization of knowledge compared to the classical organizations used in librarianship (Dewey, CDU, BLISS, etc.). Indeed, the fundamental problem to be questioned linked to social epistemology is that of the certification of digital contents and the credibility of the information given by this so-called "folksonomical" indexing. It is therefore a question of exploring this new form of content organization developed on social networks by Internet users, for example by library users when qualifying a book. This last point is an important tension because the credibility to be granted to knowledge by "tagging" resulting from a social approach generates refutable judgments according to logical epistemology (inductive or deductive). What are the models of knowledge organization today since the emergence of wikipedia, wikimedia?

This call for papers will focus on the concepts, paradigms and imaginaries underlying the work on the contemporary modalities and conditions of the production, circulation, transmission and organization of knowledge.

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